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The Comb in the Urinal And Other perplexities of life
by Thomas J. Neviaser
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Rating:
Reviewed by: John L. Hoh, Jr.

This book struck me in an odd way with its funny title. I just had to see what it was about.

First, some words about Thomas J. Neviaser, MD. He wrote Man's Unofficial Guide to the Use of his Garage, which was reviewed on this site. That book was a joy to read, even if there was an over-dependence upon exclamation marks to make many, many fine points in that book. Dr. Neviaser took that criticism to heart and approached me with the prospect of reviewing his second book. I am glad I didn't turn him down.

Dr. Neviaser was inspired with the idea to write this book by "stopping to smell the roses," as it were (although any "roses" in a urinal might not smell as sweet as Shakespeare would say). Basically, Dr. Neviaser saw everyday things in odd places, jotted some notes, and wrote short stories about how that ordinary item ended in such an odd place.

To be sure one must have some imagination to do this. One must also be willing to exercise that imagination. Most people wouldn't give two thoughts to a boot on the interstate, a parka on the subway bench, mittens in the tree, a mattress on the side of the road, a possum with toenail polish (a possum with toenail polish?), the common pothole, a camera on the piling, panties on the fire escape (well, okay, maybe us guys would be intrigued-we might even check it out!), a lost dog poster, and other such minutiae of daily life.

Dr. Neviaser begins each story with an anecdote of the item he saw. Then he delves into the tale he has dreamed up for that particular sight. The beauty of this book is that the reader does not need to read the stories sequentially. I looked at the table of contents and selected a few at first I thought would be interesting (yes, the raccoon with nail polish and the fire escape panties were early hits).

The stories also provoked me to wonder what I would have dreamed up for a scenario for each item. Not that Dr. Neviaser's writing lacked anything. It's just that the creative force is a contagious force. Heck, I'm sure panties on a fire escape would lead some to come up with a seamy tale of romance or forbidden love! Or the possum being a plaything for a young girl not cognizant of the dangers of playing with dead animals.

The Comb in the Urinal And Other perplexities of life is a good book for recreational reading. I would also strongly suggest this book for college and high school creative writing classes. Teachers could have their students try to write better tales about the everyday things Dr. Neviaser saw and surmised about.


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